To Jason Spinazzola, compliance professionals aren’t meant to operate from the comfort of an ivory tower, where they blindly draft policies and don’t see the impact of the rules that they enforce. Instead, they should be on the ground, building trust and relationships with their colleagues—a key ingredient in building an impactful compliance program.
“You have to be proactive and to learn how to speak like a businessperson,” he attests. “You need to give metrics of performance, where we’re reducing risk and by how much, etc. It’s about building compliance within the fabric of the business. It’s their program too.”
That business-oriented approach helped BIOTRONIK Inc. transform its compliance program into an industry strength. Even when companies are facing market pressures, regulatory challenges, or external investigations, effective compliance programs can help companies continue on a path towards growth in the shadow of any challenge.
Spinazzola loves building small teams with passionate people, even if some have not worked directly in compliance prior. Experiences in areas like HR, investigations, and data analytics can serve as the springboard for great compliance talent. He spends a lot of time performing risk assessments companywide to identify areas that needed to be fine-tuned with internal controls. He also meets frequently with his business colleagues to understand them, their roles, and their challenges.
“You need to be relatable, be mindful of their perspectives, and be empathetic, and you have to understand that these people are working really hard in a dynamic and fast-paced work environment,” he says. “I take a look at how I can use this job to protect the company and empower the people so they can make better choices and use compliance in a positive way. I love helping the business reach greater heights through the power of compliance.”
Even before working with his business partners to build strong compliance programs at BIOTRONIK, Abbott, St. Jude Medical, Fresenius, Health Net, and the University of California, Spinazzola had a strong passion for healthcare, especially heart companies.
It stemmed from the loss of his baby sister who had a hole in her heart as an infant that doctors couldn’t detect or fix. He knew that he wanted to work in a space that aimed to help patients and save their lives and went on to get a psychology and pre-medical degree before obtaining a law degree and a master’s in public health.
As he navigated the early and middle stages of his career as a compliance professional, he witnessed the power that a strong compliance program could have on a business.
“I learned that compliance can be a shield defending against laws from being broken and it can also be an offensive weapon like a sword,” Spinazzola explains. “You can use it to come up with new ideas and solutions, driving better results, having more efficiencies in a business, and helping with customer issues. A lot of compliance people may be good at the defensive part, but the fun piece is when you can use it as a competitive advantage to help the business appropriately.”
Today, Spinazzola spends his time serving as a mentor to his team and to young professionals seeking success in their careers. One piece of advice he offers them is “you have to love what you do.”
“If you don’t have passion or love for your work, the job is going to drain you,” he says. “Love what you do and find passion for something, so when you’re doing hard work, it’s going to feel rewarding to you.”
Jason Spinazzola on Diversity
“I oversee an all-female staff, who represent a number of different ethnic backgrounds and life experiences,” Jason Spinazzola says. “For me, that kind of diversity allows your group to be stronger. Our business is diverse and so are our customers. Without diversity, we’d be missing out on the power of merging perspective which allows compliance to be better business partners. Diversity of thought and of people makes your group much more dynamic.”
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